I love you! It is kinda funny that you send the letter from mom's email even though it is you that is emailing. It has been a super crazy week here. Last week were transfers, and while neither I nor my companion moved, we have two new sets of Sisters in our Zone, a new set of English Elders in our District (they live a building down from us), and one week less in this transfer than in any other transfer due to Christmas. So now I and Sister Dayton are Sister Training Leaders over 4 other sets of Sister Missionaries, and two of them opened up new areas while also training missionaries that both just got off the airplane to come to Georgia.. So those are going to be some crazy exchanges. Especially since we only have 5 weeks to do exchanges with the Sisters, and we have 4 to go on. The new Elders in our ward obviously didn't know anything about the area, and since they were also opening up new areas then they didn't have anything to do except try to get some investigators. Fortunately, the Spanish Elders in the ward as well as us have a bunch of people that we were able to give them to help them get started with a teaching pool. They have been coming over to our apartment a lot to do planning since they don't have a map yet, and I just finished making a very detailed map of our area. (I'm super proud of this map. It took me 5 weeks to just make the map part.) We are still putting people on it, but it has definitely been a blessing because then we were able to more effectively plan for both us and the Elders without it getting to crazy and tracting the same areas.. Life is good. But super crazy.
It was also a really hard transfer because Sister Dayton had made some really good friends in the last district we had, and many of them left. It wasn't very easy for her, because she doesn't like being the one that is left, but we have been managing fine, and Sister Dayton is still a super awesome missionary:) One thing that she did do though, before Transfers was have one of the Elders who left give her a blessing for comfort. As you well know me being the daughter of my mother, cried the whole time the blessing was given because I knew how hard it was for her. It was one of the sweetest blessings I had heard in a while, and it really touched me because of the comfort and peace that was offered to her. It also made me miss a bit being at home where you could give me a blessing when I need it. The priesthood is the same, no matter who holds it, but there is definitely something different and more special when it is your own father giving you a blessing from your Heavenly Father.
I feel extremely blessed to have a father who has played such a big part in my life. There are so many families here who are missing a father in the home due to whatever circumstances, and it makes me feel really sad that they are missing out on such a wonderful relationship. My life at home was extremely blessed. I really did have no idea how much so until I got here and saw the consequences of so many broken families. I still don't even understand how much my life has been blessed because I haven't experienced fro myself what it is like to live without any of that stuff. All I know is that it would be an extremely hard trial to have to go through.
On a different note, Thanksgiving will be interesting to have here, especially since we are going to have Thanksgiving with a lady who is from Japan. So she is going to feed us Japanese food for Thanksgiving. Definitely not what I was expecting. Also strange realization is that from now on, I only have one of every single holiday before I go home, so next Thanksgiving, I will be with y'all. Weird. I still can't believe that I have been on my mission for 6 months already. Super crazy. I hope you eat some wonderful pie for me:) idk if I will be eating any pie since we are eating Japanese food.. Who knows though? Maybe we will go to 2 Thanksgivings! That would be a lot of fun:)
Sorry to hear about the Heiner's car. But I am glad to hear that Sister Heiner is ok. I see that car here all the time, and I'm not sure how in the world people can afford it when the majority of the people live in trailer parks, but maybe I am just seeing the same car over and over all over Columbus.
Oh also, I never really realized how much of a sacrifice it was for you to be driving an hr too and from work every week day for as long as I can remember. I guess I always thought that was normal, because that is always what you did. But there are people here that will spend the night in hotels rather than drive the 2 hrs everyday to commute from work, so I wanted to tell you thank you for all the hard work and sacrifice you gave for me and my siblings. Thank you also for all the preparation for life you gave (like what to do in case of a fire, kidnapping, death, if the prophet calls us to Jackson County, etc haha) as well as for all the mornings you wanted us to be up for scripture reading as a family before you left for work. I always took that as the normal thing people did, and nobody else that I have talked to on my mission has ever even thought about doing things like that. It really helped me be more prepared for my life, spiritually, and physically.
As you well know, I am a super fast reader, and I retain a lot of what I read. A few months ago, my mission president challenged us to read the Book of Mormon in 90 days highlighting all the Doctrine of Christ (faith, repentance, baptism, the gift of the Holy ghost, Endure to the End). I took my time with that and still managed to finish within 40 days. So I decided back in September that I wanted to challenge myself to read the entire Standard Works in 90 days, highlighting the righteousness and blessings one color, and the wickedness and curses with another. I am about 80 pages away from finishing the Old Testament, and about 30 pages away from finishing the Doctrine and Covenants. I'm halfway through the Book of Mormon, and I still have the whole Pearl of Great Price and New Testament to do. I also plan on reading the Bible Dictionary, because I have decided its pretty awesome, so I have all of that to do as well. So I still have a long way to go. However, my point in telling you all of this isn't to tell you how amazing your daughter is. The point in my telling you this, is to tell you how much I have come to really love the Book of Mormon. The whole Bible is filled with wickedness and abominations. God is trying to give these people the best and they are turning around and telling Him they don't want it, and would rather go ask for things from some fake idol they went and made themselves. And then they get punished for their pride and selfishness, and like many of us do, when we are reprimanded they will agree with whatever so that the punishment will stop, and then once they are blessed again, they turn back around, and the cycle continues. The Book of Mormon goes through the same cycle, but there is so much more hope! The power of the Atonement, and the Savior and repentance are all put into this positive light rather than a negative one as consequence of something bad. I have learned so much more how wonderful and great is the sacrifice that Christ gave for us is. My Bible is full of the color red with a couple of blue spots every once in a while. My Book of Mormon (and remember I am only halfway through it) is full of the color blue, with only a few red spots in it. The Doctrine of both is exactly the same. God is the same God no matter what you read about Him. The Message of the Book of Mormon though is one of hope, and peace, and everlasting joy! It is a message about the eternal nature of families when founded upon Christ's Church. It is a message of hope for those who have been stuck in darkness fro so long. It is a message of joy for those who think that the end of mortality is the end of life. It is a message of peace when the world gets crazier all around us! I love the Book of Mormon! I love my Savior! I know my Heavenly Father loves me! That is the message I have to share. God is Alive. His Son did die, but is living now! Because of Him, all will live.
Before I get off, I wanted to share a story that one of our recent converts told us. This man is in the army, and he has a great uncle who was Mormon, and had probably one of the hardest experiences I can ever imagine anyone going through. Since I don't know the name of the man whose story it is, I will make one up so you don't get confused.
John was in the army during WWII. After Japan bombed Hawaii, the emperor of Japan told his people that no one would be able to bomb them back because they were a 'promise people' and their God was fighting for them. So a call went out for volunteers only, who were going to go on a mission to Japan, to bomb parts of their country. The bombs that were dropped did very little damage, but the purpose wasn't to destroy anything, but rather to prove to the Japanese people that their Emperor's statement that they were impervious was incorrect. Basically it was to drop the morale of the Japanese people. Anyway, John was one of these volunteers. He and a bunch of other men flew over Japan, and dropped bombs on their ground. Unfortunately, John's airplane was hit, and it crashed into the ocean not far from the coast of Japan. 20 people survived that crash and were captured by the Japanese once they got to shore (since there wasn't anywhere else for them to go). They at that point became Prisoner's of War. Time goes by, and they are sent from camp to camp, tortured and beaten, and starved, and all manner of horrible things were done to them. Meanwhile back in the States, they received a report that their plane had crashed, but that there were 20 missing soldiers. As the time passed, and no one was able to located them, they were all declared as KIA. More time passes, and those soldiers are still subject to so much torture and all manner of things. Eventually, America gets a report that there are 5 American soldiers who are Prisoners of War in a certain camp, and they take all sorts of efforts to get these men back. They discover that these 5 men were all that were left of the 20 that were captured. John was one of them, and the only one who was still sane. Every other man that was rescued could no longer function in their lives, and had major PTSD. John was later asked in an interview what kept him sane while he was captured, and he told them it was because everyday he would read the Bible to the other men who were captured with him. Because of how much he read it, he was able to memorize it, and recite it whenever he was feeling especially down. He arrives home, only to find out that his wife had married another man, because they all thought he was dead, and his whole family didn't know how to respond to him anymore. The recent convert was telling us that he asked John once (when he was 10) if the Bible really was what got him through that whole experience. John told him no. And then John went inside and came out with a little blue book, and told his great nephew, "This is what got me through it." On the cover of the book were the words "The Book of Mormon Another Testament of Jesus Christ."
The power found in the covers of this book are real. The promises are true. I know it. With all the fervor of my soul I testify of it. Never forget it!
Love you all!
-Sister Monica Walker